I have been very fortunate over the last few years to be able to hunt with some great people in a great area. Minnesota's deer population has done very well recently and the area I hunt in is known as an intensive harvest area. This means that I can shoot up to five deer if I wanted to. I have never shot that many deer but every year I do bring home two or three deer for the freezer. I am yet to shoot a nice buck but I am able to fill the freezer and have enough venison for the year, so i am pretty happy. Having an abundance of venison gives me the opportunity to try many different things. Over the years I have smoked whole legs and made venison prosciutto and every type of venison sausage you can imagine so this year I was hoping to try something different.
Salting and curing meat is one of those things I don't think I will ever know enough about. I love every aspect of it. Making jerky and prosciutto and hams is so much fun and the end result is very rewarding. With any luck I will be able to purchase a smoker this year and open up some new possibilities. In the mean time I will keep salting and drying meat and enjoying every minute of it.
I have made venison prosciutto a few times and have made duck prosciutto also. I had some duck breasts left from the hunting season and of course have a good amount of venison so thought I would try something new. I came across a recipe for lamb bresaola and duck ham and thought I should give it a try. For the duck ham I took two breasts and packed them in a salt mixture of:
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbls ground white pepper
1 tbls thyme leaves
2 crumbled bay leaves
You cover the breasts completely in the salt mixture so the duck is covered on all sides and let sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days then you rinse the breasts completely, dry them sprinkle with fine ground white pepper wrap in cheese cloth and hand fro 2-3 weeks to dry. When done you end up with an absolutely flavorful salty beautiful piece of duck that you can do several things with. I like to slice it thin and fry in a pan like bacon and serve it with eggs for breakfast. It also makes a nice addition to a cheese tray or Charcuterie platter.
The recipe for lamb bresaola came from Michael Symon's new book Live to Cook. I have felt for a long time that you can use venison in place of lamb and get away with it almost every time. So for the Venison Bresaola I used a one pound piece of venison back strap and and used a similar salt mixture to cure it:
1 tbls kosher salt
1 tbls sugar
1/4 tsp pink salt
1 tbls chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh lavender
11 tsp ground blcak pepper
After you mix together the salt mixture place it in a 1 gallon freezer bag with the venison loin and shake it to coat the venison. Place it in the refrigerator for seven days flipping it over every day. After a week take it out rinse the loin clean then pat dry wrap in cheese cloth and hang for about a month. After the month has passed you can take it out of the cheese cloth slice it thinly and serve any way you want to. I have been trying it with everything and absolutely love it. Although these preparations take time they really are worth the wait.